Mother-of-two spared prison for setting fire to home in Lisburn
A County Antrim mother who admitted setting fire to her home while her two children were inside has been spared a prison sentence.
Aine Kennedy, 38, of Milltown Avenue, Lisburn, was released on probation.
The judge at Craigavon Crown Court said it was an appropriate sentence given her "genuine remorse".
He warned Kennedy that she would face prison if she committed any further offences.
On Tuesday, the court heard that a neighbour rescued the defendant and her sons, aged 10 and eight, after hearing a smoke alarm and her shouts for help in April 2013.
Kennedy was remanded in custody after she pleaded guilty to a single count of arson with being reckless as to whether the lives of her children would be endangered.
The judge said that "arson is an extremely serious offence, which could have led to the death of you and your children".
He said that Kennedy had been suffering from depression after she ended her marriage to an abusive husband and had a long history of solvent abuse.
He added that although the defendant was considered to be at a medium-to-high risk of re-offending, she was not considered a risk to the public and "had not deliberately set out to harm herself or her children".
He said that a factor in Kennedy's favour was that she "had called out for help to save the lives of her and her children once the fires had been set".
"Arson is an extremely serious crime, which would normally meet with an immediate custodial sentence," he said.
"In my view, 30 months would be the appropriate sentence in this case."
However, the judge said that considering the "highly exceptional circumstances of the case", and that her children were no longer in her care, he had decided to hand down a three-year probation order.
He said this would allow Kennedy to continue to work with addiction programmes under the supervision of the Probation Service and also allow her to remain in contact with her children.